When it comes to her own advocacy, life issues have always hit home for King, whose parents in 1950 became pregnant with her before they were married.
At the time, The Negro Project launched by Margaret Sanger in 1939 was continuing to gain steam. Among other things, the project worked to promote contraception and abortion in the black community.
King said her parents had considered getting an abortion until her grandfather, Martin Luther King Sr., "prophetically" intervened. Though they didn't have ultrasound machines at the time, King said her grandfather had strongly rejected the claim that the fetus was "just a lump of flesh." He said that the baby was a granddaughter whom he had seen in a dream three years prior.
After hearing Martin Luther King Sr. describe how his granddaughter would look, Alveda King's parents decided against the abortion and she was born in 1951.
Despite hearing this story many times in her youth, King took a different path after her father and uncle died. She had been married, divorced, and no longer had the support system she once did, so when the pro-choice women's movement began to grow, "I joined it because I'm a freedom fighter."
However, she said, following the birth of her first child, she was coerced into having two abortions. When she became pregnant again, and was planning to have another abortion, her grandfather gave her the same message he had given her mother: "That's not a lump of flesh, that's my great-grandchild."
She decided to keep the baby. Seeing her baby's heartbeat on the sonogram confirmed that decision.
"I heard with new ears," she said, explaining that her uncle's words, "injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere," began to take on a new meaning in her mind.
"He also said the Negro cannot win if he's willing to sacrifice the future of his children for immediate comfort and safety," she said, and recounted how, after being "born again" in 1983, she immediately began advocating for life.
In addition to her famous family ties, King had a career in law, was a college professor and served in the Georgia State House of Representatives. In law classes she taught, King said she would bring up the abortion issue and make the argument that "a woman has the right to choose what she does with her body, but the baby's not her body. Where's the lawyer for the baby?"
"It began to rock everything," she said, explaining that she began to face resistance from Sanger's Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau, which had been re-named as "Planned Parenthood." The organization objected to her pro-life views, arguing that her uncle had received the group's "Maggie Award" in 1966.
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However, King said that Martin Luther King Jr. had never supported the organization's agenda. He declined to attend the award ceremony, she noted. It was his wife and secretary – both of whom were more sympathetic to the cause at the time – who attended and wrote a thank you note to the group instead.
"Martin Luther King Jr. never accepted the agenda of Planned Parenthood," Alveda King said. "They lie. They lie today. They put their abortion mills on or near streets that are named after Martin Luther King, and they want to attach that to the civil rights movement of the 20th century, (but) it doesn't belong."
Part of why the Negro Project grew as fast as it did, she said, is that it funded scholarships and grants for the black community that were tied to support for the abortion movement.
Additionally, the organization promoted abstinence, while also handing out condoms and advertising abortions, she said.
"If you tell a kid…yeah, be abstinent, but let's give you Cosmo magazine with teens having sex and let's give you free condoms, then they knew they were going to get all those abortions," she said.
"So that's how you ended up with a whole culture of abortion-minded people. It was slick, very slick. Evil."